Tag: Portland OR

New Audio: The Death Wheelers Release a Sleazy and Ass Kicking Single

Comprised of Max “The Axe” Tremblay, Richard “The Bastard” Turcotte, Sy “Wild Rye” Tremblay and Hugo “Red Beard” Bertacchi, the members of  Canadian band The Death Wheelers have been largely inspired by the aesthetics and ethos of bikesploitation movies such as The Wild Angels, Werewolves on Wheels and Psychomania, as well as Davie Allen, The Cramps, Motorhead, The Stooges and Grand Funk Railroad — with the result being sleazy, primal and bruising, jam-based instrumental rock ‘n’ roll.  

Slated for a May 11, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, the band’s forthcoming I Tread On Your Grave is an album devised to serve as the soundtrack for an imaginary B-movie with an incredible plot: Decimated in 1972 by local authorities, all members of The Death Wheelers, a notorious motorcycle club, have been buried at the Surrey cemetery. But the time has come and they have risen for their last ride. They’re back from the grave and they’re hungry for blood! Nothing can stop this gang of living dead from recruiting new members as they travel coast to coast to find the filthiest, nastiest, trashiest individuals to join their ranks. Their goal, assemble a legion of 13 “discycles” (disciples+cycles) to seek revenge on the pigs that dismantled the club and send them to their graves. The cycle of violence continues . . . ”

I Tread On Your Grave’s latest single “Black Crack” is a raw, swampy, bluesy track that sounds as though it were inspired by ZZ Top, Howlin’ Wolf and Portland’s R.I.P. as it features enormous power chords with some boozy guitar pyrotechnics, thundering drumming paired with a jam-band “you-are-there-in-the-room” immediacy and swagger, while evoking a sense of primal lust and danger — and holy shit, does it kick ass.



Although currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rock act Wooden Shjips can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them — with the underlying idea behind it being that untrained players would have a new outlook on what music is and how it’s played, and as a result bring something fresh to the table in a way that many of the garage punks of the early 60s and the Velvet Underground did. In fact one of the longest tenured members of the band, Jermier was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never even picked up before while other members from their earliest iterations often had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs.

Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup — but this time, the intention was different: Johnson, a fan of seemingly impenetrable albums an arcane, small-press poetry books, was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. And unsurprisingly, the band set about to make purposely obscure albums that Johnson envisioned leaving in libraries, thrift store bargain bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpected, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals to Golden State Park to any and all comers with the proceeds from the single going to Food Not Bombs. Interestingly, their second real gig as a band was a single release show, opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.
The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space on an half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album an strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts added later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records.

Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his side project Moon Duo, his acclaimed dup with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams.

Written last summer, Johnson viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,
“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.”
V‘s first single “Staring at the Sun” is an expansive, laid-back, shimmering delay pedal effected, guitar pop with a steady groove that sounds as though it owes a big sonic debt to Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out paired with a slowly building narrative centered around the gentle push and pull between the desire for sun and escape and the pressing tug of anxiety and uncertainty — with peaceful resistance to that anxiety and uncertainty winning the day and guiding the overall tone.   At one point, the song’s narrator seems to say “come on, man slow it down, daydream in the sun for a bit,” and you know what, goddamn it, the guy is right. Even in the face of a world constantly on the brink of annihilation, of a government on the verge of collapse and a social order being shredded apart, sometimes you need to push the reset button or you’ll go crazy.


The band will be embarking on a tour to support their newest effort and you can check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

April 13 – Portland, OR – Bunk Bar [tickets]

April 14 – Bellingham, WA – Shakedown [tickets]

April 20 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Old Princeton Landing [tickets]

April 21 – Santa Cruz – Michael’s On Main [tickets]

April 29 – Austin, TX – Levitation Festival

May 25 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios [tickets]

May 26 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile [tickets]

June 1 – Nelsonville, OH – Nelsonville Music Festival

June 2 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle [tickets]

June 4 – Detroit, MI – Marble Bar [tickets]

June 5 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern [tickets]

June 7 – Los Angeles, CA – The Lodge [tickets]

June 9 – Sonoma, CA – Huichica Music Festival


New Audio: Blackwater Holylight Return with a Heavy Psych Rock Dirge

Comprised of founding member, Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight began as an experiment of what Faris’ own version of what “heavy” should be both sonically and emotionally. “I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.” But interestingly, as Faris explains in press notes, her current band can trace its origins to when Faris’ longtime band split up. “In my last band, I was the only female in a group of 6, so I wanted to see how my songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat and working with women.”

Last month, I wrote about “Sunrise,” off the band’s self-titled debut, a single that struck me as meshing elements of Breeders-like alt rock, garage rock and swirling, towering shoegaze — but with soaring hooks, bringing to mind classic, 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock, while eschewing familiar song structures. The album’s latest single “Wave of Conscience” is an enormous power chord-based heavy psych dirge that sounds indebted to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath — and sonically speaking, could have easily been mistaken for a track off the incredible Brown Acid compilation series but while being a strident feminist anthem. 

Lyric Video: Portland’s Hemmit Captures Youthful Passion in “Friends”

Keith Fleming is a Portland, OR-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter, who as a drummer, has had stints touring and recording with The Jonny Cohen Love Machine, John Stabb’s Weatherhead and and others, and for being one-half of highly acclaimed indie rock duo Hemmit, with his longtime collaborator, producer, engineer, songwriter and highly sought-after guitarist Adam Rohosy. Interestingly, Hemmit has had their music featured on MTV, Surfline, Bike TV and have received radio airplay from a number of radio stations across the world; in fact, their fifth album Straight Outta Nowhere saw heavy college radio airplay and attention from critics and fans. 

With the six-song EP One Ultra, the long-awaited follow up to their buzz worthy fifth, full-length album, Hemmit has become a solo recording project featuring Keith Fleming, and the EP reportedly consists of indie rock and guitar pop that blends elements of lo-fi garage rock, power pop and 80s synth rock, largely influenced by Ty Segall, Best Coast, Guided by Voices and Sloan; however, the EP’s first single “Friends” sounds as though Fleming was drawing from 90s alt rock — in particular My Vitriol, Blur, Foo Fighters and others, as the song is centered around enormous power chords, a guitar pyrotechnic-fueled solo, thunderous drumming and a rousingly anthemic, arena rock friendly hook. And while swaggering and self-assured, the song is a breakneck, swooning, “you-were-there”-like recollection of youth and youthful passions 

The recently released lyric video for “Friends” is essentially a time capsule, featuring found footage of young people over the course of the past 30 years or so, being young and seemingly carefree. 

The Portland, OR-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Jenny Logan may arguably be one of her hometown’s quietly kept and most talented secrets as Logan is a member of grunge of pop trio Loveboys, post-punk act Miss Rayon and guitar pop act Sunbathe, who I recently saw open for Typhoon at Music Hall of Williamsburg (more on that later). Along with that, Logan had a stint playing bass for Summer Cannibals and keyboards for a Seattle-based Rolling Stones cover band. Amazingly, the incredibly busy Logan managed to squeeze in the time to pursue her own singular musical vision with her solo recording project Deathlist, releasing her attention grabbing Deathlist debut last year, an effort which found Logan playing almost every instrument.

Slated for a March 9, 2018 release, Fun, the follow up to her Deathlist debut was written and recorded in the aftermath of the death of her best friend, and as a result, the material focuses on the grief and despair of a seemingly solitary mourner, with its narrator finding herself contending with a harrowing and impossible to answer question: how does one continue a conversation with someone, who will never be there again? And while the ironically titled Fun may feature some of the most achingly personal material that Logan may have arguably ever released, it points to one of the most universal experiences any of us will ever know: someone we love, respect and cherish will die, and we’ll brokenheartedly fumble through some portion of our lives, desperately trying to find some larger meaning to all the lingering ghosts of our pasts — or some convenient closure, when there never really is. Yet, we find a way to push on, to find some beauty and occasionally even acceptance within chaos.

Unsurprisingly with the material focusing on death and loss, Logan’s cites Christian Death, Sisters of Mercy and Suicide as inspiring aspects of the album’s sound, and while you’ll hear hints of that on album single “Charm School,” as Logan pairs buzzing and slashing guitars with throbbing, propulsive bass, forceful, industrial-like drum machines and razor sharp hooks; but I also hear hints of Sixousie and the Banshees, The Cure and Dirty Ghosts as the song manages to channel confusion, sorrow and anger — simultaneously and within a turn of a phrase.

Currently comprised of founding members Willy Vlautin (vocals, acoustic guitar and electric guitar) and Dave Harding (bass, backing vocals), along with Sean Oldham (drums, percussion, vibes and backing vocals), Dan Eccles (guitar) and Paul Brainard (pedal steel, piano, acoustic guitar, trumpet, backing vocals), the Portland, OR-based alt country quintet Richmond Fontaine can trace its origins back to 1994 when the band’s founding duo met at  Portland Meadows Racetrack, where they bonded over betting on the ponies and their mutual love of Husker Du, Willie Nelson, X, The Blasters and The Replacements, and they quickly decided to collaborate together. After a lineup change with the band expanding to a quintet, they developed  reputation for a sounda that frequently meshed elements of rock, country, punk, folk and Americana paired with Vlautin’s narrative-like songwriting, which resulted in praise from the likes of nationally and internationally recognized media outlets including UncutQ MagazineMojoThe IndependentThe Sun and others.

Interestingly, over the past decade, the band’s Vlautin has developed a reputation as a critically applauded and commercially successful novelist with his debut novel The Motel Life winning a Silver Pen Award from the State of Nevada and landed on the The Washington Post’s Top 25 Books of 2007 — and later, the book was adapted into the critically acclaimed motion picture, The Motel Life which starred Emile Hirsch, Stephen Dorff, Dakota Fanning and Kris Kristofferson.  Vlautin’s 2008 sophomore novel, Northline was a San Francisco Chronicle Top Ten Bestseller. 2010’s Lean on Pete won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction and was named Hot Press’ book of the year. 2014’s The Free continued an incredible run of prolificacy which included the band’s 9 preceding full-length albums, an instrumental soundtrack for Northline, two live albums and an EP.

After a three year hiatus from recording, the  members of Richmond Fontaine returned to the studio with their long-time producer and collaborator John Askew to write and record, 2016’s You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To, which was released by one of my favorite labels, Fluff and Gravy Records across North America and Decor Records across Europe. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you may recall that I wrote about album single “Wake Up Ray,” a jangling bit of old school country-influenced alt country with Vlautin’s novelistic attention to detail, which managed to created a very real, lived in world in which the song’s characters wake up every single day to a lonely life and an even lonelier house that they’ve learned to hate — and yet they’re aware that because of the choices they made, that their position (if not, their very fate) is largely inescapable. But underneath the surface, is a wistful and mournful recognition of life and love’s impermanence.

Following the release of You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To, the members of the band formally announced that it would be their final traditional album and tour; however, as the band’s Vlautin was putting the finishing touches on his fifth novel, Don’t Skip Out on Me which is slated for a February 13, 2018 release through HarperCollins, he was able to round up the band to record an instrumental, companion soundtrack, and while a digital download of the soundtrack will be bundled with the book, Richmond Fontaine’s long-time label home felt that it deserved it’s own release — February 16, 2018 with an extremely limited vinyl release both in the States and in Europe, through Decor Records.

Soundtrack single “Horace And The Trophy” while clearly nodding to classic, 60s and 70s Renegade Country, 70s AM rock possesses an obvious cinematic quality, as though it should be part of the soundtrack of a deliberate, thoughtful road trip movies, featuring rugged, heartbroken and rootless loners crisscrossing the continent, fleeing a troubled past or an uncertain future.


New Audio: Up-and-Coming Portland, OR-based Act Blackwater Holylight Specializes in a 120 Minutes-era Alt Rock Sound

Comprised of founding member, Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight began as an experiment of what Faris’ own version of what should feel heavy both sonically and emotionally. “I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.” But interestingly, as Faris explains in press notes, her current band can trace its origins to when Faris’ longtime band split up. “In my last band, I was the only female in a group of 6, so I wanted to see how my songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat and working with women.” 

As you’ll hear on “Sunrise,” off the band’s self-titled debut effort, the band’s sound meshes elements of Breeders-era alt rock and garage, swirling and towering shoegaze, psych rock and moody post punk with soaring hooks — and although the song manages to be reminiscent  of classic, 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock, the song structurally walks a tightrope between moody, slow-burning dirge, anthemic power pop within a fluid song structure that eschews the familiar verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus of the past. 

Live Footage: Other Lives at Music Apartment

Currently comprised of Jesse Tabish (piano, guitar, vocals), Jonathon Mooney (piano, guitar, percussion, trumpet) and Josh Onstott (bass, keys, percussion, guitar and backing vocals), the Portland, OR-based indie rock trio Other Lives initially formed in Stillwater, OK back in 2004, recording and releasing an album under the name Kunek before changing their name, as they went through a decided change in sonic direction and approach that necessitated a rebranding. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its almost 8 year history, you may recall that the trio have received both national and international attention for a lushly orchestrated sound reminiscent of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The National and Ocean Rain-era Echo and the Bunnymen while nodding at Joy Division ,The Darcys and Caveman. 

Much like JOVM mainstays Warhaus, the members of Other Lives were invited to perform an intimate and career spanning set of their gorgeous, genre defying yet accessible and emotionally immediate material for Music Apartment. 

New Video: The Symbolic, Video Game-Styled Visuals for The Prids Shoegazer-like “Mangled Hearts”

Currently comprised of founding members Mistina La Fave and David Fredrickson, with Tim Yates and Gordon Nickel, the Portland, OR-based noise pop act The Prids can trace their origins back to 1995 when the founding duo met in La Fave’s hometown of Saint Joseph, MO — shortly after Frederickson had relocated from Southern California. As the story goes, La Fave and Fredrickson started a relationship, divorced not long after they got married, formed The Prids, relocated to Lincoln, NE before permanently settling in Portland in 1999. Despite going through several lineup changes, the band has released four full-length albums, a handful of EPs and toured across the world with acts like Built to Spill and others,  while developing a reputation for their tenacious adherence to remaining completely DIY for all the right reasons to remain DIY,  which has won them countless admirers and fans across the DIY scene. And along with being among the forefront of the Pacific Northwest’s DIY scene, they’re one of Portland’s longest-running active bands, surviving through illness, deaths of friends and loved ones, the aforementioned divorce and a near fatal van accident. 

In some way, it’s a miracle that the band’s album Do I Look Like I’m in Love exists, let alone be slated for a a  January 12, 2018  through their label, This-a-Way Records. La Fave suffered a brain hemorrhage the night before the band was scheduled to enter the studio to record new material. And as you can imagine, La Fave’s recovery was mentally, physically and emotionally taxing for her and for everyone in the band with La Fave considering herself being lucky to be alive — with playing and performing being icing on the proverbial cake.  Reportedly, the new album will further cement the band’s reputation for deliberate attention to songcraft and nuanced (and moody) soundscapes paired with keen lyrical observations. 

Do I Look Like I’m in Love’s latest single “Mangled Hearts” is a tender, shimmering, shoegazer-like track that features La Fave’s ethereal yet contemplative vocals, four-on-the-floor drumming and a gently soaring hook that evokes a swooning longing for something or someone just out of reach. 

The recently released video was animated by the band’s nonbinaary and androgyne keyboradist Tim Yates and is an 8-bit video game adventure reminiscent of Super Mario Brothers, Castlevania and others featuring a nameless and gender-neutral everyperson, who wears a shirt with a non-binary flag for most of their adventure. The video’s baddies behave in ways inspired by the struggles of the LGBTQ community — you’ll see one-eyed pyramid creatures meant to represent harmful and repressive religious doctrine, solid stone knights with scrolls symbolizing unjust and rigid legislation and so on. Throughout, the video, it’s protagonist employs non-violent and clever ways to defeat the bad guys they encounter. And while being mischievous and pretty fucking clever, the video reminds the viewer that for some of our dearest and beloved friends, family members, coworkers and neighbors, that there’s a continuing struggle for acceptance.